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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Safety First

To keep in touch with your DKG friends, you love Facebook and post photos and comments daily. You also send and respond to emails. Online, you bought that cute figurine for your sister. You logged into your bank/credit union and checked your balances. Maintaining safety in the cyber world is important and relatively easy if you apply some basic strategies.

Here are are few tips to make your time on the Internet more secure.
  • Emails: If you get an email from a friend, but it looks a little strange and has a link to click, DON’T CLICK IT!  At the very least, it will grab all of your contacts from your address book and send them emails that look like they are coming from you. Or, at its worst, your click allows malware to download to your computer. The malware may steal all of your personal information or hold your computer for ransom.
  • Your email at DKG Headquarters - why it is so important: If we want to communicate well with members via e-blasts, etc., having correct emails in the system is imperative--and that is not the case at this point. Almost 1/2 of our members do not have emails in the system. Based on bounce backs, a large number of those addresses are incorrect. Let's see what we can do to help correct this!
  • Privacy and security settings exist for a reason: Every social network has privacy and security settings. Take the time to investigate them. You can control who sees what you post. But don’t do this just one time!  Because social networks are constantly changing these settings, it is appropriate to revisit the settings several times a year. While you are checking these, look at the security settings on your browser.
  • Keep personal info personal: Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes such as stalking.
  • Keep all software current: Having the latest updates for your security software, web browser, and the operating system create a first line defense against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
  • Passwords: You must have a unique and random password for each and every account. Don’t reuse passwords!  If one account is hacked, your other accounts are far less likely to get hacked if you have varied passwords. You can generate a random password based on feelings, mood, the weather, and even with the help of a password manager. A strong password could be a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love country music.”). On many sites, you can even use spaces!
  • Invest in a password manager: This is a must for all those unique passwords. No one can possibly remember them all. PC Magazine recently rated some password managers for the Windows environment.You have probably heard about a few of the: DashLane, RoboForm, or LastPass. Find the ratings HERE. Mac users have an excellent choice as well. 1Password is a favorite. DashLane and LastPass are also available. Find information HERE.
  • Utilize the services of a two-step verification process where possible: The two-factor authentication method is offered by internet services such as social media platforms and email portals. Google and Apple do a great job with this! This process of verification blocks out third parties from logging into your account even if they manage to steal your password.
  • Protect your computer: Most computer systems come with a firewall. Make sure it is activated. Install and update your antivirus and antispyware software. Here are recent ratings of antivirus protection from PC Magazine.  A note here: in the past users of Apple computers felt quite safe and rarely installed security. Although most harmful viruses and malware are still directed at Windows computers, Apple owners are seeing an increase. Sophos is a free download and is highly regarded for protection of an Apple computer. Info Here
  • Banks, Credit Unions, Investments Firms and Credit Cards: Create a different email address for each bank, etc. and DON’T use that email address for anything else. Google makes it easy to set up multiple Gmail accounts. This article from Techverse shows different ways to do it.
  • Secure Sites: One sure way to buy online with confidence is to look for https (notice the “s”) in the site address and a closed lock. Also, use PayPal or similar services when possible. See graphic below.

If this information is overwhelming, try one suggestion at a time. Start with your passwords and go from there. STAY SAFE!

“Private” graphic from Pixabay rated CC0

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